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Monday, July 10, 2017

Champion Jack Dupree: ScoobyDoobyDoo


1) I Want To Be A Hippy; 2) Grandma (You're A Bit Too Slow); 3) Puff Puff; 4) Blues Before Sunrise; 5) I'll Try; 6)
Going Back To Louisiana; 7) Ain't That A Shame; 8) Stumbling Block; 9) Old And Grey; 10) Who Threw The Whiskey In The Well; 11) Postman Blues; 12) Lawdy, Lawdy.

This one was recorded in London in early 1969, with a fairly large backing band and one of Dupree's finest temporary acquisitions up to that point — a young and unknown Mick Taylor on guitar, just a few months before joining the Stones. Fortunately for us all, Dupree agrees to give the man plenty of room, making ScoobyDoobyDoo indispensable for Mick fans worldwide; however, at this point Taylor was just a graduate of John Mayall's white bluesman school, and sounds like a slightly less experienced Clapton clone, so do not expect anything outstanding.

As usual, the songs are «self-penned» (you know what that means), with the exception of ʽBlues Before Sunriseʼ that the Champ probably did not want to tamper with out of respect for his dear departed mentor. The first track will have everybody rasing eyebrows — ʽI Want To Be A Hippyʼ is Dupree tipping his hat to the new times, and the most bizarre thing about it is that the song does not even try to be ironic: "Lord, I'd love to be a hippy / But my hair don't grow too long", the man states with, perhaps, a wink of sarcasm; "but I love the way the hippy carries on", he adds, and from then on it becomes a panegyric to the hippie way of life that he, unfortunately, cannot share (although he can at least get dressed as a court jester on the front cover, indicating that if the entire world has agreed to go crazy, then it'd be cowardly for old Jack Dupree not to follow).

Unfortunately, this is his only «sign o' the times» on the album: every other song is lyrically and melodically quite standard. But the backing band is solid, the rhythm section plays with energy, and there are plenty of boogie numbers (ʽWhiskey In The Wellʼ) to break up the monotonous monopoly of slow 12-bar blues. Of special note may be the short instrumental ʽPuf Puffʼ, on which Dupree does nothing but puff (indeed), while Taylor plays a simple, but hypnotic slide guitar melody with elements of Delta blues and country-western. Elsewhere, it is clear that Dupree was still paying close attention to whatever his peers were doing at the time: ʽOld And Greyʼ is pompous soul-blues in the style of B. B. King, while ʽLawdy Lawdyʼ is brass-ornated funk blues that brings to mind Albert King. Of course, Dupree's imitations could never properly pass for the real thing (heck, he does not wear that jester's outfit for nothing), but when taken in the proper context of his overall strange career, they add even more color to that biography.

That said, Mick Taylor, albeit already a much better guitarist than Paul Kossoff, is just as unsuitable for the Champion's lightweight style as was Paul — he, too, tends to take it all way too seriously, which is excusable for an overawed kid who got to play with one of the Delta eldermen, but does not do much to enhance the sheer comic pleasure of it all, like the Dupree / Baker duet did. As a result, this is largely just another historic curio, no more and no less.

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